Tesco is to open a new sourcing hub in California to buy local wines and foods for its worldwide operations.

An opening date and location for the new operation are yet to be finalised but it will have a central buying team and distribution centre.

Tesco already has sourcing hubs across Europe and Asia, which source both food and non-food products.

Tim Lee, who became fresh trading director at Tesco's US convenience business Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in January, is spearheading the new sourcing operation. Previously Lee had been responsible for rolling out Tesco's global direct sourcing initiative, setting up satellite offices around the world and putting technical and buying teams in place.

A Tesco spokeswoman said this showed the company's continued commitment to developing the US operation. The news came as Tesco took over two suppliers for Fresh & Easy for an undisclosed sum.

Wild Rocket Foods and 2 Sisters Foods followed Tesco to the US when it launched Fresh & Easy in 2007, providing fresh produce and meats from two facilities adjacent to the Fresh & Easy distribution centre outside Los Angeles.

The two companies will now cease to exist in their current US form, with the 750 staff merged into Fresh & Easy's manufacturing and production centre Our Kitchen at Riverside.

Fresh & Easy has slowed its expansion plans due to the recession. It had expected to have 250 stores by this year but currently has 145. It plans to open an additional 50 new stores by April 2011.